GLENDALE, Ariz. — Larry Fitzgerald caught five passes for 41 yards in the Arizona Cardinals’ 23-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings Thursday.
The effort boosted his season totals to 95 catches for 1,089 yards and seven touchdowns, and his career numbers now stand at 1,004 catches, 13,239 yards and 96 touchdowns.
Yet for all he has done in terms of catching passes, it is his blocking that has seemed to garner much of the attention of late.
No more has that been evident than on Michael Floyd’s 42-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter Thursday, which was made possible because of Fitzgerald’s absolute demolition of Vikings safety Anthony Harris.
“I scored and then I ran right to him, because without him I would never have made a play like that,” Floyd said. “He made an exceptional block. I’m more happy for the block than the whole touchdown.”
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had a similar assessment, praising Fitzgerald for how he handled a play in which both he and Floyd were both open in the same part of the field.
And that’s just it: the ball could have gone to either receiver for a big play. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said he did not know who to throw it to, noting he threw it in between the receivers and hoped one of them would catch it.
Floyd did, paving the way for Fitzgerald to pave the way for Floyd.
“Mike was in my reception area, but to add insult to injury then he made me have to block for him to get in the end zone, so he was running with the ball that I was supposed to have,” Fitzgerald said, with a smile. “It was an interesting play. It worked out for us and it’s always good to have a good laugh and a win.”
Fitzgerald’s blocking is no laughing matter, though — just ask Harris. Along with Fitzgerald’s ever-present ability to make plays down the field, the veteran wideout’s ability to help spring his teammates has become something that is often talked about.
But Thursday night may have been his coming out party, at least when it comes to his ability to block and the rest of the NFL realizing it.
Fitzgerald, 32, said the highlight-reel block was not the first pancake of his career, and did not seem apt to take much credit for it because, as he said, it’s part of the duty of his job. He also pointed out how the team’s offensive linemen are the real blockers, adding Floyd never would have had a chance to even catch the pass if not for them protecting Palmer long enough to get the pass away.
“Those guys are the real protectors, man,” he said. “Those guys are the real blockers and they never get enough credit.
“Everybody’s got to do their part to make it go.”
Most of the time, Fitzgerald’s part will be catching passes and making big plays down the field. Every now and then, it involves getting a little dirty and making a block or two. He’s proven capable of excelling at both, though make no mistake, he enjoys one aspect of his game far more than the other.
“Blocking’s not fun; it’s part of the job, but catching touchdowns is much more glorious,” he said. “You’re not as sore, you don’t have to get in the cold tub as much.
“But it’s a role I’m privileged to have because I know it’s a dirty job and I’m capable of doing it.”